Alcoholism, Addictive Drugs & Light

The Department of Experimental Pharmacology at the Southwest Foundation for Research and Education in San Antonio, Texas, subjected laboratory rats to various types of stress in an attempt to induce them to drink alcohol.

“The rats clearly preferred plain water except on weekends when they went on real alcoholic binges. This was perplexing at first but it was noted that the automatic time switch on the lights was out of order and the rats were being left in continuous darkness over weekends. Another group of laboratory rats was kept in total darkness without subjecting them to any anxiety stress and their preference also switched from plain water to water with alcohol added. In Science, July 30, 1973, Dr. Irving Geller, Chairman of the Department, refers to this as ‘darkness-induced drinking phenomenon.’ He relates it to the work reported in 1963 by Nobel Prize winner Dr. Julius Axelrod, who found that the rat pineal gland produced more melatonin during the dark nighttime period than when it was light.

“Dr. Geller then gave injections of pineal melatonin to rats kept on a regular light-dark cycle and not subjected to any anxiety. The injections alone turned these rats into alcoholics. Dr. Geller stated that ‘it is only through such animal studies that one can hope to attain a clearer understanding and perhaps an ultimate treatment or cure, or both, for alcoholism in humans.’ ”

Dept. of Experimental Pharmacology, Southwest Foundation for Research & Education, San Antonio, TX, Science, July 30, 1973

Quoted by John N. Ott, PhD (Hon), Health & Light (Greenwich, CT: Devon-Adair, 1973), p. 159.

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